MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. – A Brevard County dog grooming business is still in operation months after its owner was ordered to cease operation by the Florida Department of Health.
According to documents obtained by News 6, Kelly Jo Strabley’s animal care business license was taken away on Sept. 30, 2019, after a dog was severely injured while being groomed.
“He was family,” Rebecca Netcher said. “We always said he was a human in a dog suit.”
Rebecca Netcher and her husband Morris Netcher said they brought their 6-year-old goldendoodle Lochlan to Paws and Claws in April 2019 for routine grooming.
They said they waited 10 hours for the call that Lochlan was ready to be picked up.
“She brought him out, and he had a towel around his neck, and he had been cut in numerous locations — around seven,” Rebecca Netcher said. “I mean, big gashes. It was so bad.”
“As soon as the surgeon saw how badly he was cut, they took him right back, and he went immediately into surgery,” said Morris Netcher.
Brevard County Animal Services launched an investigation and determined Strabley did not seek medical treatment for Lochlan after he was injured.
In 2016, a Brevard County couple claimed their dog was mauled to death at Strabley’s business.
In 2017, court records showed she accepted a plea bargain after she was cited for leaving a dog in the sun for too long.
This time, a judge convicted her of inhumane treatment of an animal.
As a result of that infraction, she now appears on Brevard County’s Animal Abuse Database.
The Florida Department of Health in Brevard County also revoked her animal care business license and ordered her to cease operation within 24 hours.
FDOH Assistant Director Anita Stremmel said the business is still in operation, however, because it has a new license.
“The license wasn’t submitted under Ms. Strabley’s name. It was under an employee’s name, and the business is now in their employee’s name,” she said.
Stremmel said the license has not been approved yet, but the business can operate while it’s being reviewed.
Strabley is still allowed to work with animals, Stremmel said, but she is not allowed to own the animal-related business.
According to Brevard County court records, Strabley still owes $1,365 in court fines from Lochlan’s case and other cases that date back to 2017.
Court workers confirm all of those fines have been sent to a collections agency.
News 6 attempted to ask Strabley about the case involving Lochlan and the outstanding fines, but she declined comment.
The Better Business Bureau urges pet owners to do their homework when choosing a groomer:
Check the groomer’s credentials, their online reviews, both good and bad, and if they have formal complaints filed against them. You should look for a certificate, find out the type of training groomers have had and see how long they have been in the profession.
Stay and watch the grooming process. Most facilities have an observation window or area where owners can watch the groomer at work. The BBB encourages pet owners to do so if they don’t have to rush out after dropping off their pet.
See what kind of dryer and equipment the groomer uses. Most dogs enjoy being bathed, so it’s the drying part that usually causes the most issues.
Communicate clearly with the groomer. Some dogs with pushed-in faces, like boxers and pugs, might never acclimate to the force dryers because of natural breathing issues, which need to be clearly discussed with the groomer.